King County Executive Dow Constantine announced a plan to begin transforming King County Metro into its own department within County government by early 2019. The proposal will go to the County Council next year.
King County Executive Dow Constantine directed work to begin on a plan to move Metro from a division within the King County Department of Transportation to a standalone County department. This would increase innovation and accountability in four areas: increasing mobility options, capital construction, investing in Metro’s workforce, and expanding the transit system through partnerships.
“This region increasingly depends on fast, reliable transit. So it’s no surprise that Metro is one of our most vital, visible, and popular services,” said Executive Constantine. “By elevating Metro as a standalone department, we can better encourage innovation and accountability so that we continue to make strong progress in mobility, delivering capital investments, focusing on employees, and forging strong community partnerships.”
The move builds on the successes in creating the Metro Connects long-range plan, the ORCA LIFT fare for riders earning lower incomes, and services that are better integrated with Sound Transit.
Over the coming months, Executive Constantine will form a work group with County Councilmembers to identify shared objectives and priorities for Metro as a standalone department. Following thorough business planning and budget processes, a formal proposal will be transmitted to the Council in fall 2018 as part of the 2019-2020 budget process. It’s anticipated that Metro will become a department early in 2019 following Council actions.
King County and Metro Transit merged in 1994, following a voter referendum. Metro later became a division within the King County Department of Transportation, along with the Road Services, Airport, Marine, and Fleet Administration divisions. Metro is the largest single division in King County government, providing $1.6 billion in transit services in 2017-2018 through 4,800 employees – including 2,800 transit operators.
Metro provides 500,000 rides daily through bus service and under contract for Sound Transit and the city of Seattle. Metro’s daily ridership is above 400,000 and with service expanding, Metro is the largest transit agency in the state and serves the nation’s fastest growing transit market in the country.